Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Henrietta Lacks

Tonight, I went to a lecture about Henrietta Lacks. Dr. Ruth Faden, from Johns Hopkins came to speak, and so did Sonny Lacks, Bobbette Lacks, and Erika Johnson.

If you have never read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I definitely recommend that you do. It is a great book and brings up so many ethical questions regarding medicine.

Basically, Henrietta Lacks is the person behind the name HeLa cells. The doctors at Johns Hopkins took them from her cervix and they are the first cells to live forever outside the human body. Many vaccinations and cures for diseases have been made with these cells.

Also, many researchers have made money off of the cells, not to mention the doctors who produce the cells in mass quantities. Henrietta's family knew nothing about the cells until recently. And they obviously never received money or help with their health issues either.

Tonight, Dr. Ruth Faden spoke about some of the ethical questions and whether the situation would have been different if Henrietta was white, rich, or gave consent. And whether the cells should have stayed confidential. And what we do now in these situations.

My favorite part was when Henrietta' family spoke. It was so nice to hear from them and what they think of the whole situation. They were very gracious and thankful; and they only had nice things to say about everything that has happened.

I'm honored that I got to attend this lecture and hear everything the Dr. Faden and Henrietta's family had to say.

And please, read the book! It's a great book and part of the money goes to scholarships for Henrietta's family!

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